THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION
MARGUERITE J. DENNIS
BULLETIN # 13 JUNE 22 – 26, 2020
“Major crisis have major consequences, usually unforeseen.”
Francis Fukugama, Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International
Studies at Stanford University
THE REIMAGINED UNIVERSITY – ADMISSIONS
I am currently conducting research for a monograph I plan to publish on the
Reimagined University. Information will include my vision for reimagining the
Progression, retention and graduation programs
A separate article will focus on the Reimagined International Student Office.
Let’s begin with how the admission process could change to meet the needs of
In most institutions, recruiters travel the world and their own countries to collect
information on potential applicants. Several of the prospective students become
applicants. Several are accepted and eventually enroll. With some exceptions the
process, from application to notification, can take several months.
What if the admission process was based on a year-long rolling notification?
What if an applicant, whose file was complete, for example, by November 8 th and
was acceptable, was notified by November 11 th ?
What if the acceptance packet contained information not just from the “usual
suspects,” but from the registrar who outlined the courses needed to graduate
not just for the first year, but for all four, three, or two years?
What if the acceptance packet contained information from the financial aid
officer estimating how much it will cost to graduate, how much the accepted
applicant could expect in grants, bursaries, etc. from the school and the estimated
amount of student debt the accepted applicant would incur?
What if the acceptance packet contained information from the career counseling
staff outlining the types of internships, based on major, that could be available to
the accepted applicant?
What if information from the alumni office listed recent graduate school
placements and job titles of graduates?
What if the acceptance packet contained the names and contact information of
the admission, registration, financial aid, retention, and career counselors
assigned to the accepted applicant?
And what if your institution was the only one providing this information?
Many of you reading the above may press the delete button: there are too many
silos, too much entrenchment, too much institutional resistance to make my
suggestions for a reimagined admission process reality. The process outlined is
just too holistic and could never work.
I understand all of these concerns and push-backs.
But what if you offered your version of what your reimagined admission process
could look like? Are there parts of what I suggest that would work for your
Let’s think from the end. How would an accepted applicant and that person’s
family react to having this information in an acceptance packet and have months,
not weeks, before enrollment?
Let’s think from the end. Wouldn’t you like to know, on a rolling basis, your yield
numbers earlier in the year then is now the case? How could this information
impact the planning of your chief financial officer if he/she knew on a monthly
basis the likelihood of meeting enrollment and financial targets?
How would your reimagined admission process compete against your competitor
Iconoclastic? Yes. Possible? Yes. Worth a try? I think so.
JUST THE FACTS
According to a report by Strada Education Networks, 25% of Americans want
more education if they lose their job as a result of the pandemic. Most prefer
non-degree training over the traditional college model.
This week President Trump will sign an executive order prioritizing workforce
skills over college degrees when hiring federal workers.
Could workforce education become a new player in future student enrollment?
This week President Trump suspended foreign worker visas, a decision that will
impact future international education experts and participants in teacher training
programs from coming to the U.S.
Another executive order limits the number of H1-B visas. This decision will
negatively impact future international recruiting efforts and make it more difficult
to hire professors and researchers.
China is advising students not to study in Australia because of the trade and
political disputes between the two countries. However, a recent report in The
Australian revealed that Australia is still the first choice of Chinese students
despite the warnings from the government. Only 13.7% of the surveyed students
indicated that Australia’s domestic policies toward China were a deterring factor
in their decision to enroll in Australian schools.
The situation is different however for Indian students. Rising tensions between
India and China have resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Indian students
applying to Chinese universities.
The U.S. enrolls 22% of all international students; the UK enrolls 11% and China
For the past two decades China had experienced a 5% annual growth rate in the
number of international students studying in China. In 2019 there were 500,000
international students enrolled in Chinese colleges and universities.
But that is about to change. In the future China will focus on quality, not quantity.
At the University of California at San Diego, computer models, created by two
sociology professors at Cornell University, predict how COVID-19 could cause the
spread of the virus on campus. The models reveal a reduction in virus cases when
classes are capped at 50 or fewer students. Recommendations include allowing
small classes to use large classrooms to allow for social distancing. Another
recommendation: teach large classes online.
Note: 97% of the 92 universities in the UK recently polled indicated their fall
schedule will include some in-person teaching.
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COIVID-19 ON HIGHER EDUCATION
The IMF predicts the world’s economy will shrink 4.9% this year. Less money in
the world’s economy means less money in individual households and that means
less money for expensive, study abroad programs.
Follow consumer behavior patterns to determine who is likely to apply to your
institution and enroll.
England’s Minister of State for Universities announced that EU, EEA, and Swiss
students planning to study in the UK will no longer be eligible for home fee status
as of August 2021. Students will no longer be eligible for the same tuition rates
and financial supports available to domestic students in England.
Stanford University announced that some reduction in the school’s workforce is
The University of Michigan at Flint will terminate 41% of its 300 lecturers to help
meet a budget shortfall of $ 8.4 million.
SHIFT FROM THE ATLANTIC TO THE INDIAN OCEAN?
Quacquarelli Symonds Work University Rankings 2021 reveal a significant rise in
the rankings of Asian universities and an overall decline in the ranking of colleges
and universities in the U.S., UK and Europe.
26 Asian universities are among the top 100 schools listed in the report. This is a
112 of America’s 153 ranked universities declined, with only 34 recording
improvements. The U.S. has two fewer top-50 universities than last year. Carnegie
Mellon dropped to 51 st and the University of California at San Diego dropped to
54 th .
63 of the 84 UK universities declined. Oxford fell from fourth to fifth place,
replaced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Reasons for decline include decreases in teaching capacity and research impact.
For decades, government policies and financing schemes in several Asian
countries have resulted in the creation of educational infrastructures that can
now rival higher education institutions worldwide. The rise in the rankings of
several Asian universities is an example of those policies coming to fruition.
At the same time the turmoil surrounding Brexit and decreased federal and state
funding for many flagship public universities in the U.S. has resulted in a decline in
the ranks of several western schools.
“Human contact is now a luxury good.”
Nellie Bowles, New York Times
A report from New Zealand predicts that COVID-19 will never go away and the
the world will just have to learn how to live with the virus. If that is so, presidents and
vice-chancellors should look beyond the juggling they are doing to open their
campuses for the fall and spring terms and look beyond that time frame to what
will be THE normal.